Lead The Way
Despite thinking I wasn't going to get out to the barn before dark yesterday afternoon, I managed to put out all of the fires that needed to be put out at work and rushed over to see my pony before sunset. I needed some four-legged furry therapy, STAT!
Dino was, of course, a total mudball, so I spent a long time chipping him out of the crust of dried mud that he had so carefully applied, taking the extra time to brush out his mane and tail, and make him clean and spiffy. Singing as I groomed, I enjoyed the quiet time with my best buddy.
When I finished grooming, it was miraculously still light out, so I opted to hop on my mighty steed and go for an easy stroll around the property. I grabbed my helmet and western bridle, and swung a leg over bareback.
After a few minutes of walking, I put my knuckles down on Dino's withers, dropped all rein contact, and let him lead the way.
He very promptly picked up the pace and motored over to the farmhouse. Since having his feet trimmed in the garage the other day, he's been extremely curious about the house, and really wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, I couldn't let him go in the house, even though Dino really wanted to!
After a brief re-direction, Dino marched off down the driveway, where he'd never been before. Ears up, looking around at the new sights, he was going to find out what was down there!
Dino's curious spirit and sense of adventure never fail to make me smile! On days when I lack the mental and emotional capacity to really ride, I can let him lead us on an adventure, and trust that he will keep us safe.
Some people may think that letting my pony be the leader is bad training, but I see it as a wonderful trust-building and relationship-strengthening exercise. It gives Dino confidence to know that I trust him to make good choices, and seeing his smarts in action helps me be more confident in him.
Plus, it's fun for everyone involved.